Guilin (桂林; Guìlín)
Guilin is reputed as being one of the world's most beautiful places with its karst landscapes, clean rivers, idyllic countryside, majestic rice terraces, and ethnic minorities. It is in South China's Guangxi Region, close to Hong Kong and Guangzhou to the southeast, and now only 6.5 hours’ ride from Chengdu by train.
Highlights of Guilin
Guilin boasts the most beautiful karst landscapes in the world. The top things to see in Guilin are all related to the landscape and rural scenery.
The karst scenery of Guilin is characterized by its green hills, clear water, pretty rocks, and mysterious caves. Karst mountains continue in the Li River valley for a hundred miles. Rising sharply at odd angles, the limestone peaks look like giant bamboo shoots growing out of the green plain. The best karst hills you can visit or climb include Xianggong Hill, Elephant Trunk Hill, Fubo Hill, and Folded Brocade Hill, all of which are along the Li River.
Xianggong Hill, which is one of Guilin’s most popular photography spots, offers bird's-eye views of the Li River meandering among hundreds of hills like a green ribbon.
Elephant Trunk Hill, Fubo Hill, and Folded Brocade Hill are all in downtown Guilin, and in most classic Guilin city itineraries. They offer fantastic outlooks over Guilin and its rivers, weaving among its many hills, but involve climbs on 100+ steep stone steps.If you are not good at walking, Elephant Trunk Hill may be the best for you. It’s the lowest with a riverside park around it where you can appreciate the views.
There are opportunities to interact with locals, such as visiting a local family. They’ll share with you their stories of countryside life. A true benefit of a China Highlights Guilin trip is meeting locals in context. The karst caves in Guilin are huge in size and offer a majestic display of underground features, such as stalactites, stalagmites, stone pillars, stone curtains, and more. The most famous caves are Reed Flute Cave and Crown Cave. One of the best ways to enjoy the karst landscape is taking a cruise on the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo. The river is like a green ribbon winding among the green peaks, along which pinnacles, bamboo forests, caves, and fishing villages are scattered.
Idyllic Countryside in Yangshuo
Yangshuo is regarded as having the most beautiful countryside in China due to its idyllic landscape and leisurely rural lifestyle.As you venture out into the countryside, you can see water buffalos grazing in the rice fields, fishermen fishing with cormorants, women washing clothes by the river with karst peaks in the background, and old men chatting in a village square under the shade of a big tree…. This should be the China you imagined. Popular activities to explore the countryside are hiking, biking, and bamboo rafting on the Yulong River. Remember to Get interact with locals such as visiting a local family, and let them share you their stories of countryside life. This is a true benefit of your Guilin trip.
The Longji Rice Terraces
The rice terraces in Longji look just like the scales of a huge dragon’s back (”Longji” means ‘dragon’s back’) as they proceed in tiers down the mountain ridges. The best times to see the rice terraces are around mid-May when they are irrigated and September to October when the crops are turning golden. A large number of hikers and photographers visit the area during these months.
Ethnic Villages and Culture
Longji is home to the Zhuang and Yao ethnic groups. There are many minority villages, such as Ping'an, Dazhai, Longji Ancient Zhuang Village, and Huangluo Yao Village. They offer you access to see the locals, who still wear their traditional clothes, and their traditional houses on stilts (diaojiaolou ‘hanging feet buildings’), while experiencing authentic ethnic minority customs.